Auberon: Beams and Missiles

So last week, I geeked out on carriers.

This week, I want to talk about offensive firepower in the way distant future. I thought about coming up with a fun and exciting name for the various classes of beam weapons, like several movie and TV show universes have, but in the end, I realized that the Republic of Aquitaine is a fairly technical place, in spite of their Founding Legends.

The smallest beam weapon is the Type-1 beam. This is a short-range weapon, pretty small, and usually mounted in fighters or escorts. In Auberon, the M-5 Harpoon melee fighter has a triple Type-1 installation. That means one on each wing, and one mounted centerline, all facing forward. The outer two also parallax in, so when you get a lock on someone and open up, all three should come to something of a focus at the point of impact. When dog-fighting, the triple beam will eventually knock down shields and get a kill, if the other pilot can’t get away.

Defensively, an escort like CR-264, which is a converted Revenue Cutter, mounts several Type-1’s in turrets with good arcs. CR-264 specifically has four Type-1’s, which is not much, compared to the GunShip Necromancer. CR-264 is much bigger than the GunShip, however, and has better shields and way more comfortable sailing. Escorts and Destroyers use the Type-1 to kill missiles and drive off melee fighters.

The next weapon up is the Type-2 beam. This is larger weapon, and will rarely be mounted on a fighter craft. Auberon carries a pair of S-11 Orca medium bombers that each have a single Type-2 in a fixed mount. (They also have a twin Type-1 in a turret with a single gunner, mostly for defense against melee fighters.) Necromancer has a triple Type-2 (wings and nose like the M-5 Harpoon has with the Type-1), but she is designed to go up against bombers, DropShips, and GunShips, as well as tangle with the smaller escorts an enemy fleet might field.

The Type-2 is a lovely weapon to kill melee fighters and missiles with, having range and hitting power. CR-264 has two of them, Dorsal and Ventral in turrets.

The Type-3 is the weapon of warships. It can be used to hunt melee fighters and bombers, but they tend to be nimble enough to evade fire from the big guns, unless you get lucky. Instead, the Type-3 is intended to batter down the shields of an enemy vessel. It has the most range of the beams, and the most hitting power. CR-264 has no Type-3’s, while Rajput has four and Auberon has two. And remember, Rajput is an up-gunned Destroyer, and an unsuccessful design at that, while Auberon is a Strike Carrier built on a Heavy Cruiser hull. A Republic Heavy Cruiser, for scale, will have six Type-3’s and a Battlecruiser will have eight.

Finally, there is the Primary Beam. This weapon is different from the other beam weapons, in that it requires ammunition. The weapon was invented when someone accidentally overloaded a Type-3 and drilled a hole partway through a nearby moon. Where a warship can fire the beam weapons (1-3) all day, they have a limited number of Primaries. These weapons, however, hit an order of magnitude harder.

Think of each one as a cartridge for a gun. It contains a firing mechanism, a lasing focus, and a generator filled with fast-burning fuel. When you fire it, it uses up the mechanism, and you can either eject it into space as trash, or haul it home and recycle it. Aquitaine normally recycles the weapons.

Auberon has two Primary mounts, instead of the four of a Heavy Cruiser or six of a Battlecruiser, but she retains the two because she is expected to go into combat with Cruisers and hold her own when she does. Rajput has three Primary mounts, where a Destroyer or Destroyer Leader only has two. She also has a larger armoury for shells, which is part of the reason the vessel is so cramped.

However, you kill enemy vessels with missiles, not beams. Crecy or Agincourt, not Trafalgar.

The Republic of Aquitaine has a variety of missile types available, and they tend to be named after birds of prey from the now-lost Homeworld. The Hawk is the standard missile of the Fleet, with a regulation warhead and guidance systems.

The Eagle is a longer-ranged variant of the Hawk, where explosives for the warhead has been reduced in favor of greater fuel and endurance.

The Crow is commonly referred to by Republic crews as the Shot or Murder. Instead of an explosive warhead, this missile contains four smaller missiles inside. After the weapon is launched, it can be programmed to deploy by opening the sides like a flower. Each of the four sub-munitions is fairly short-ranged, and has a small warhead. They are used primarily defensively, where each of the four shots can be targeted at an incoming missile with a very high kill-ratio. Against a melee fighter, one of the Shot sub-munitions will likely shred the craft’s shields, although it probably won’t damage the craft much. Two of them should score a kill.

The Barn Owl is a stealth missile. Auberon tends to use them at the time when it is launching a pair of fighters from the forward tubes, or crash launching the entire wing. Enemy scanners are unlikely to pick the missile up against such a noisy background. The missile does not use scanners. Instead, it is programmed to follow a particular course, passively scanning for emissions from a target, and then actively running down the target. They are shorter-range than a Hawk, and the lack of active scanners, and the lesser fuel load, means that they have a much larger warhead. If you can get one in and catch the other guy off guard, you can kick his shields in, or shatter a smaller vessel if they have lost their shields.

The Vulture is an armored missile. Instead of being killed by a Type-1 beam or a Shot sub-munition, it might take two. The warhead on a Vulture is smaller, but they are primarily used is a larger wave, to cause gunners to panic when hits don’t kill.

Lastly, Aquitaine uses the Osprey. This is a very heavy, slow missile, normally used at the end of a battle as a coup de grace against a warship that has been damaged enough to not fight back. It lacks speed, because everything is in the warhead. It can kill a battleship if it hits home.

This now concludes today’s lessons in Armaments. Please let me know if you have any questions.